Former Ireland and British and Irish Lions prop Syd Millar dies aged 89

Syd Millar. Pic PA
Syd Millar. Credit: PA

Former Ireland and British and Irish Lions prop Syd Millar has died aged 89. Millar, born in Ballymena, was capped 37 times for Ireland and made nine Test appearances for the Lions in a successful playing career. He then coached the Lions in 1974, when they went undefeated in their 22-match tour of South Africa, and led Ireland from 1973 to 1975.

Millar became president of the Irish Rugby Football Union in 1995 before being named chairman of the International Rugby Board in 2003. He gave up both roles in 2007. The Lions said in a statement: “There aren’t many people who have given as much to the Lions, or our sport, as the great Syd Millar. “Three tours as a player, one as a series winning coach and another as a manager. He also served as a committee member, selector and chairman. It all adds up to an amazing nine tours over six decades. “All our thoughts are with his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.” Millar started his playing career with local club Ballymena, who said on X – formerly known as Twitter – on Sunday: “It is with deep regret that the Board of Directors of Ballymena RFC inform members of the passing of highly esteemed member Syd Millar. “On behalf of everyone connected with Ballymena RFC we extend our sincere condolences to his daughter Lesley, sons Peter and Johnny and family.” World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont paid tribute to Millar as “a giant of the game on the world stage”. Former England captain Beaumont added on the official World Rugby website: “As influential in the boardroom as he was brilliant as a player, coach and manager, Syd was a natural leader and visionary, someone who cared deeply about the sport, its people, values and future. “Syd led the sport through some of its most defining moments, driving forward the expansion and development of the sport beyond its heartlands. He was an inspiration to me, and many aspiring administrators, and he will be greatly missed. “All our thoughts are with the Millar family and friends at this difficult time.”

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